The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the UK's foremost gardening charity, today announced the recipients of its prestigious annual awards for contributions to horticulture. The RHS awards recognise both horticultural excellence and personal endeavour and are regarded internationally as being among the highest distinctions in horticulture.
The highest accolade the RHS bestows, the Victoria Medal of Honour (VMH) was awarded to Chris Sanders. The VMH is awarded to British horticulturists deserving of special honour by the Society.
Chris Sanders, who was made an RHS Associate of Honour in 1999, is a respected plantsman, propagator and author who has travelled extensively, particularly in the Himalayan region, to further his knowledge. An expert on ornamental cherries, he was instrumental in setting up a National Plant Collection at Keele University, Staffordshire, has also built a collection of Deutzia originally bred by Victor Lemoine and was behind the introduction of a range of garden favourites including Cornus alba ‘Aurea' and Aster x frikartii ‘Monch'. He is Vice-Chair of the RHS Woody Plant Committee, Chair of the Woody Trials Assessment Forum and a member of the Nomenclature and Taxonomy Advisory Group. Chris has worked at several commercial nurseries, and when he retired in 2002 was Production Director for Bridgemere Nurseries, Cheshire.
Mark Chase, Martin Gardner, Gianfranco Giustina, Antonio de Almeida Monteiro and Philip Baulk were all awarded the Veitch Memorial Medal for their outstanding contribution to the advancement of the art, science or practice of horticulture. All recipients have had an exceptional impact in their area of expertise. Mark Chase is one of the most distinguished scientists working in the field of plant classification and evolution; Martin Gardner has made an outstanding contribution to conifer conservation; and Philip Baulk, who with Ashwood Nursery has won 50 consecutive RHS Flower Show Gold medals, has played a significant role in establishing Ashwood's worldwide reputation for quality and innovation.
Ian Butterfield and David Stone were awarded the RHS Associate of Honour, which is presented to British citizens who have rendered distinguished service to the practice of horticulture either as employers or employees throughout their career.
The Harlow Carr Medal, given to honour those who have made a significant contribution to horticulture in the North of England, was awarded to Peter Cartmell. Peter founded the Westmorland Damson Association, which has increased the popularity of damson growing in Cumbria's Lyth and Winster valleys.
Young horticulturists will also be recognised during the graduation ceremony of the Master of Horticulture in April, which is the Society's most prestigious professional horticultural qualification. This year's graduates are Catherine Corneille, Michele Coe-O'Brien, Jane Cosh, Grainne Ring, Oliver Wilkins and Branka Gaberscik.
Tom Galligan, from New Mills School Business & Enterprise College in Derbyshire, was named Young School Gardener of the Year.
Other awards bestowed included those associated with RHS Flower Shows. Dave Parkinson of Dave Parkinson Plants from East Yorkshire was awarded the Williams Memorial Medal for exhibiting plants of excellent cultivation while Helen Bainbridge from Fir Trees Pelargonium Nursery, Middlesbrough won the Lawrence Medal for creating the best floral exhibit at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in 2013.
RHS President Sir Nicholas Bacon said: "The RHS awards are a most important part of the work of the RHS by recognising the remarkable efforts that individuals have made to the furtherance of horticulture in its widest sense."